Chordette Qute EX DAC – Review

As I’ve recently heard and reviewed the Chord Hugo, I must say that that little amazing DAC really made me very curious on other products from Chord.

I thought that I really must hear the Chordette Qute Ex as it is in a similar price range and has a similar size.

Chord Qute Ex Review (5)

With the courtesy of avstore, I’ve managed to get my hands on a unit and here I am on another journey with another good product.

First, if you haven’t heard of this dac, maybe you have heard of QuteHD. Well the EX is the upgraded version of that product. It brings support for both 384kHz PCM and 128 DSD music files. The older Qute HD had support only for 192 kHz PCM and DSD 64.

 Technical specifications

Harmonic distortion: 103 dBV
Signal-to-noise ratio: 115dBV
Dynamic range: 118dBV
Power supply: 12v 1A 2.1mm connector. Centre point positive 100V- 240V – 50/60Hz, 1A wall adapter supplied
Weight: 0.4kg
Dimensions: 160x70x40mm (WxHxD)
It has 3 inputs:
  • 1 x USB HD with DSD 128 decoding, 44.1 kHz to 384kHz PCM, 16-32-bit
  • 1x Optical
  • 1x Coaxial 44.1 kHz/384kHz-ready, 16-32-bit

And 2x RCA phono outputs .

Chord Qute Ex Review (3)

You can find more bout the product here.

I think that Hugo has newer technology inside as it has better specs.

I have always thought that Chord Qute HD and Ex were bigger or “normal” sized DACS. I had a pleasant surprise when I saw that size wise,  is similar with hugo.

The build quality is, of course, top notch. I actually like the design of Qute Ex a little more more than the one of Hugo. I have the black version and I think it suits it really well.

Listening Impressions

The tests have been done with Decware Taboo MK3Audeze LCD-X with Toxic Silver WidowBurson ConductorAudiobyte Hydra-X, Sennheiser HD800, Focal Spirit Classic.

Chesky Vivaldi – Allegro ( La Caccia )

While I felt it was not at the same level with Hugo the quality was still very good. The scene still had air, good transparency and details. The instruments had a very good instrument separation and presence. However I felt something was missing compared to my experience with Hugo which presented more details, more extended instruments, better dynamics and soundstage.

Silent Strike – Asian Paper Circus

Conductor really impressed me here, as combined with Hydra-X  really gave the Qute-Ex a run for the money. While the chord was overall more detailed & faster, the bass on conductr+hydra was more punchy and present giving a more fun presentation. Hugo was a clear & distinct winner here, but now I couldn’t pick a clear winner .

Pink Martini – White Christmas

I liked the song on the little chord. Compared to Conductor, the voice has a better and more detailed texture, all the instruments are better rounded and more complete from the birth of the sound till the end of it.

Rod Stewart – Winter Wonderland

The timbre of the voice seem more complete and natural on Chord than on Conductor + Hydra. Both voices are very well extended and have a good presence throughout the song.

Infected Mushroom – Noon

Even though the bass was more punchy and present with Burson+Hydra, the overall faster and more detailed sound of Chord Ex, easily won me over. The sound had more energy and even if the decay was faster with Chord, the sounds did have more extension and life on  burson. The bass was more detailed and faster with Qute-Ex but didn’t raise the same level of engagement.

Mozart – The Marriage of Figaro

Because of the smoother and weightier sound with Hydra+Conductor, I ended enjoying this song more on Burson as Qute Ex had a slightly thinner presentation with more aggressive treble.

Zdob si Zdub – Miorita

While the sound of Qute-Ex is fast, I miss the exploding transients from Hugo.  Because of the more present & punchier bass I ended up enjoying this song more on Burson+Hydra.

Leonard Cohen – Lady Midnight

The voice was much more natural and had a more pleasant and detailed timbre with Qute-Ex. The guitars seemed more detailed and had better spark.

Chord Qute Ex Review



The bass is not at Hugo’s level as it doesn’t have the same precision, detail nor depth and punch. Letting hugo aside the bass is fast and detailed but I would like more punch and a little more depth.


The mids are very nice presenting very natural and full voices that have very good texture and presence. The instruments’ life present good extension between the attack and decay.


The treble is well extended but sometimes it could add a little sibilance, or actually you can spot it better when it is present on the recording itself.


While not as transparent as Hugo, the Qute-Ex is still very good in this department.


While the decay is fast, the attack is lacking the force and energy from Hugo.


The details are again not in the same class as Hugo, but over Burson+Hydra. The sounds are better rounded with Qute-Ex and this brings more details into the song.


I really miss the microdynamics from Hugo. Letting Hugo aside, the dynamics are not bad at all with the Ex, being a clear winner here compared to Conductor and Hydra.

Chord Qute Ex Review (2)


I had the feeling that the Qute Ex will not be in the same class with Hugo and I was right. While it is a very good product on it’s own, it didn’t impress me as much as it newer brother did. I felt that Hugo was a product that inspires you, that astonishes you with it’s capabilities and it’s genius, while the Qute Ex is an A student but lacks the genius. While I’ve seen other A students, geniuses are not that easy to find.

Hugo had one of the best bass I have ever heard in a Dac with incredible precision and control, followed by a wonderful depth and punch. With Qute-Ex I felt I needed a little more depth and punch.

The transparency, dynamics and details on Qute-Ex are below Hugo too but still good.

With Hugo there was no competition between Conductor+Hydra and it, but Qute-Ex while overall  better, on some songs I preferred the Burson.

I think that I was really spoiled by Chord’s newest addition. If I eliminate Hugo from the picture, Qute-Ex is still a very good product with a lot to offer and all that in a very small and ergonomic package with excellent build quality and design.


  • Good design and build quality
  • Very good voices with natural tonality and texture
  • Good details
  • Good transparency
  • Good dynamics
  • Well extended treble
  • Small


  • Would like more punch and depth in the bass
  • Quite the difference between it and Hugo
  • The spdif input is not RCA which is more popular

Chord Qute Ex Review (6)